It took longer than anticipated. In fact, many around the Pittsburgh Penguins organization thought the deal was off. However, 24 hours after the first trade hit the rocks, GM Jim Rutherford and the Penguins trade of Patric Hornqvist for defenseman Mike Matheson was completed.
The deal appeared ready to happen yesterday. Ths second time around, Florida included bottom-six forward Colton Sceviour, too.
Matheson, 26, struggled in his last two seasons in Florida. The Florida 2012 first-round pick (24th overall) signed a new eight-year contract after his rookie season in 2016-17. However, the last two seasons met with decidedly mixed reviews.
The Penguins trade acquisition will cost the Penguins $4.875 million per season against the salary cap for the next six seasons. Matheson also has a salary escalator. His base salary will be $3.5 million next season but will climb to $6.5 million in the final three years of the deal. Also, the Penguins will owe Matheson a $2.5 million signing bonus in each of the final three years.
Florida Hockey Now beat writer George Richards described Matheson for us:
“I mean, at times, he’s been terrible,” Richards admitted. “But then he can be brilliant. Turnovers, right in front of his net, but man can he play.”
Matheson had 135 turnovers in 2018-19 but reduced that number to only 54 giveaways this season. Matheson is a swift skater with offensive skills but has struggled on the ice and with his confidence over the last two seasons.
This season, the 6-foot-2, 188-pound defenseman scored 20 points (8g, 12a) in 59 games, while averaging just over 18 minutes of ice time per game.
Colton Sceviour is an industrious bottom-six winger. Penguins fans may remember he fought Penguins winger Zach Aston-Reese in February 2019. Aston-Reese fell awkwardly at the end of the fight and broke his hand.
Sceviour, 31, is not a massive winger but has enough size to succeed in the NHL. He’s not blessed with great talent, either, but scored 16 points (6g, 10a) in 69 games this season. He has one season left on his contract, which carries a $1.2 million AAV.
The move is the first for new Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito, a long-time assistant GM with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Hornqvist, 33, completed the second year of a five-year, $26.5 million deal. He scored 16 goals in 52 games in a rebound year. He was also widely credited with being one of the Penguins to show pushback and energy during the Penguins four-game Qualifying Round loss to the Montreal Canadiens in August.
Pittsburgh Hockey Now will in-depth analysis coming up.